Currently viewing the category: "Bees"

What Is this
Hi Mr. Bugman,
Could you help me identify this critter? It is as large as the biggest woodcutter bee, but never seems to behave like a bee. We see it annually in the spring in San Jose California. It only appears in the afternoons once the temperature hits 70 degrees F, or more (never less). It takes up a station in a spindly bush where it charts out an erratic course and constantly flies in, and through, the bush. I have never seen one land, it just flies constantly, making picture taking a challenge. I have never seen it engage in any feeding behavior, sipping nectar from flowers, munching on leaves or even chasing or catching other insects. Seems to have no stinger or proboscis. The wings are clear. There are several that have appeared this year, but each stakes out a plant and flies sentry duty around it, chasing other examples away. They seem partial to blueberry bushes and plants in that family, though this one was seen near a dwarf apple tree. They never appear when the plant is fruiting, however. I took this picture about a month ago, and this seems about the end of the season for spotting them. I can not detect any coloration on the clear wings, but they do appear to be veined. Can you help with the identification? Thanks,
Bill Knickel

Hi Bill,
This is a male Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta. The female is a robust black bee and the much shorter lived male is this lovely golden color.

Metallic Green Wasp
Hi Daniel and Lisa,
My boys and I rescued two wasp-like creatures from our pool today. The first dried off and took off before I could get any pictures. I did manage to get a couple of shots of the second one before it was able to fly away. I’ve looked through your wasp pages and didn’t really find an exact match. The cuckoo wasp seemed to match the closest, but not quite. There didn’t seem to be any metallic green on the abdomen of my specimens, mostly black with white stripes. I’ve looked through one of my field guide’s to insects and thought the virescent green metallic bee could possibly be a match. The bee (or wasp, or fly) in question wasn’t very big… only about 2cm in length. Any thoughts? Thanks again!
Barrie , Ontario

(06/12/2007) Halictid Bee Hi Daniel and Lisa,
I just got word from Eric Eaton from Bug Guide that my creature is ” Probably a species in the genus Agapostemon, but a halictid in any event.”. I’ve since looked up the Halictid Bee on the web and found many images that match my insect.

Hi Yvonne,
Sorry we didn’t get back to you fast enough before Eric Eaton came to the rescue and identified you Metallic Green Bee.

Carpenter Bees
I bet you guys have fun on your sight. I thought you might like the attached photo of a male and female carpenter bee from El Paso, TX. The differing colors are great. I believe them to be a Xylocopa species. According to John L. Neff of the Central Texas Melittological Institute in Austin, it is either X. varipuncta (your Valley Carpenter Bee) or more likely, X. mexicanorum, given distribution records. The picture was taken on Feb 19, 2005, which is a bit early for them to be out and about (they usually show up, based on my recollection, about April and May). They were rather lethargic for quite some time despite that it was not cold (upper 70s that day). The tree is a “Mexican Elder”, my wife tells me a Sambucus mexicana, though she is not sure. The site is: El Paso, El Paso County, Texas, 2 miles n. of downtown.
Glenn Davis

Hi Glenn,
Thank you so much for sending in the gorgeous photo.

Ed. Note: When this image arrived last spring, we fell in love with it. We are always cheered by the presence of these large lumbering black female Valley Carpenter Bees in our garden each spring. They frequent the sweet peas and the honeysuckle. The female bees remain in the garden most of the summer. One year a bee nested in our carob tree and another year we found a nest in a sumac. The female bee labors many hours creating a tunnel. she fills the end of the tunnel with pollen and nectar and lays an egg, sealing the chamber with wood pulp. She will create about five or six chambers, each housing a single egg, within the tunnel. The adults emerge in about 45 days. Adult female bees will overwinter and create a new nest in the spring. The golden male bees are very short lived and have a very different, more nervous flight pattern. We are eagerly awaiting the appearance of the first male bees in our garden this spring. Male bees are attracted to our lantana and digitalis.

golden bumble bee??
I took pictures of this guy today, he is as big as a bumble bee, but golden with green eyes! He sure loved all the pollen! Can you tell me what type of bee he is? Thanks,
Madera California

Hi Amber,
This is our featured Bug of the Month, the Valley Carpenter Bee. The male bee is golden like your example, and the female bee is black. We have not seen any male bees in our yard yet this year, but the females are very busy gathering pollen from our sweet peas and honeysuckle. We photographed a female bee today and will be posting that image after we answer some of our readers’ questions.

Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
We photographed the female Valley Carpenter Bee covered in pollen as she gathered nectar from our sweet peas. When she is gathering the pollen from the sweet peas, the blossoms pistel pushes up through the petals and caresses the bee, and is fertilized by the pollen trapped on the bees fuzzy body.

help with bees
I took these pictures of some kind of bees that ruined several of my plants last summer. I think one must be the queen, judging from the relative sizes. They burrow large caverns under clumps of plants (especially thyme) and the plant above dies. Do you know of any way to discourage them this year? By the way, we live in NE Pennsylvania.

These are Bumble Bees and they do make underground chambers. We are surprised to hear that their little hive has killed your plants. we have no suggestions.